Some species have been talked about for ages even though very few people can actually claim to have seen a living or even dead specimen. Even then, the evidence is sketchy at best. More often than not, the pictures are blurred and the footage unconvincing.
It goes for Nessie, a.k.a. the Loch Ness monster.
And for the Yeti, sometimes referred to as the Abominable Snowman.
And the list of such colorful cryptids goes on and on.
But when hearing some of the players in our industry talk about prestigious – even though always unnamed – customers, I feel about them just as I feel about Nessie or Bigfoot. I hear stories about these mythical customers over and over again, and still, I can’t help doubt their existence. Because my rational self does not come to terms with the story.
More specifically, it has always been my deep conviction that translating COBOL to Java or C# was technically feasible, but that the result would be so unlike what a Java or a C# programmer would have written in the first place, that it would be very hard to maintain unless one has extensive COBOL expertise to start with (which admittedly defeats the purpose altogether) The languages are just too different, and the concepts do not map gracefully from one to the other.
Perhaps even more importantly, no self-respecting Java or C# programmer would ever want to maintain this code, and given the current state of the job market, they can afford to be choosy. And they are.
But who am I to say? Sales people, with the unlimited confidence that comes with the trade, tell me over and over again that they have numerous customers that are very happy with the Java or C# code produced from COBOL.
But their confidence stops when asked for an actual reference, the ability to talk to an actual person actually maintaining this generated code.
So, anyone out there? Any hardcore Java or C# programmer, responsible for the maintenance of code produced from a COBOL translator, enjoying their job? How much fun can Java be, without inheritance, polymorphism, almost without modularity?
Or is it just me asking for Bigfoot to step out of line?
A few hundred views and some feedback down the road, please let me clarify: I don’t doubt that some companies have converted their COBOL code to Java and C#. My point is to find out how programmers experience the task of maintaining this generated code.
And even more so when these programmers are Java or C# programmers, with no prior knowledge of COBOL and its idiosyncrasies.